Like him or not, the Rangers need Tony DeAngelo to succeed
Admin note: Yes, this post mentioned politics for a hot second to build the post. That will be the only mention in this post or in the comments. Do not get into political wars in the comments.
Even before playing in his first game, Rangers fans were divided on Tony DeAngelo. One quick look at his Twitter feed showed his political views, which instantly put him on the wrong side of at least half the fan base. Beyond his off-ice views, DeAngelo has had a history of on-ice behavior issues. He’s abused refs, used slurs on teammates, and overall been disliked as he’s grown. The on-ice issues are the biggest concern.
Heck, even before people had a chance to research DeAngelo, he was already off to a bad start. The Rangers did not make a good trade, landing a question mark defenseman and a #7 pick in exchange for both Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta. Most people, including myself, expected more in return. In short, the trade itself put more scrutiny on DeAngelo, albeit unfairly, because he’s 50% of the return for a fan favorite.
But all that doesn’t matter. I hated the trade, but now like every fan should be, I’m hoping DeAngelo succeeds in New York. He’s an elite, yes elite, offensive talent on the blue line. That part we know. It was on display in the preseason. DeAngelo moves the puck well and is a confident puck carrier.
As good as he is with the puck is, at least in preseason, how bad he is without the puck. It was no surprise to me that DeAngelo was returned to Hartford after a pair of games. Alain Vigneault needs his defenseman to play defense –we can debate until the cows come home on what that means, exactly– and DeAngelo didn’t fit that mold right away.
After his demotion, DeAngelo was far from a model citizen. He got into it with a few fans on Twitter –never a good thing– and was actually a healthy scratch a few times. But he’s been significantly better over the past month or so. When Kevin Shattenkirk went down, the logical choice to replace him was DeAngelo. As mentioned yesterday, he’s a righty, offensive minded, and can probably do well on the powerplay as well.
This call up likely won’t last beyond the duration of Shatty’s injury, but it’s an important call up nonetheless. DeAngelo is already 22 years old and getting close to that make-or-break season. This isn’t it, but next year might be that year. For the sake of the Rangers, they need this to work out. Otherwise the trade becomes even more of a steal for Arizona.